The evidence of England’s incremental growth under Phil Neville was on full display during their win against Norway in the quarterfinal. The attack shone, producing a display of clinical finishing, while the defence remained solid, and the Lionesses showed maturity and played with freedom and elegance. It was a statement; for the first time this summer, they truly lived up to their billing of title contenders.
For the second World Cup in a row, England will face the defending champions in the semifinal. By virtue of being the current holders, the USA would be considered favourites for this tie. They have not lost a match at the World Cup since 2011, and they rarely looked like losing in Paris.
Scoring an early goal always has a significant impact. Jill Scott’s strike against Norway set the tone for England’s performance, which was arguably their best one at this tournament so far. The Lionesses will undoubtedly want to get the first goal again on Tuesday, while preventing the USA from doing the same.
The only problem is that their semifinal opponents have mastered this art: not only have the USA scored first in all their games so far, they have also scored them quickly. The opening strikes have come in the 12th, 11th, third, seventh and fifth minutes. Read More